Kentucky may have a fighting chance at becoming the next state to have legal weed with a comprehensive medical marijuana program.
There was some concern recently that the Kentucky Legislature would not see any cannabis reform efforts in the 2017 session, but that was before Senator Perry Clark came forward last week with a piece of legislation called the Cannabis Compassion Act of 2017, a proposal aimed at giving patients suffering from a variety of health conditions access to cannabis medicine.
The bill, pre-filed under BR 409, would give patients with more than 20 “debilitating” medical conditions, including chronic pain and substance use disorder, the freedom to cultivate, posses and use the herb for personal benefit. It would also lend itself to the creation of a full-scale medical marijuana industry – a system that would be overseen by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Control — giving patients the ability to purchase a variety of cannabis products at licensed dispensaries all over the state.
If passed, patients would have the ability to possess up to three ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to 12 plants for personal use.
Interestingly, Kentucky’s latest marijuana-related measure is similar in a lot of ways to a bill Clark proposed at the beginning of this year, calling for the complete demise of prohibition in the Bluegrass State. The only major difference in the medicinal bill and Clark’s Cannabis Freedom Act of 2016, which called for a taxed and regulated pot market similar to what is happening in Colorado, appears to be that it would force adults 21 and over to have a bona-fide relationship with a doctor before gaining access to legal weed.
This angle could prove highly successful in the upcoming legislative session, as it appears that some Kentucky lawmakers are finally beginning to open themselves up to the concept of legalizing for medical purposes.
Earlier this year, there were some unpublicized meetings that took place among the state’s legislative forces intended to “vet” the issue of allowing Kentucky residents the ability to use medical marijuana.
Even Republican Governor Matt Bevin has said that he would support a comprehensive medical marijuana program that allows marijuana to “be prescribed like any other prescription drug.” Although the governor has not offered much more of a voice on the issue, there is some belief that he would be at least willing to consider a medical marijuana bill if the state legislature could simply get one on his desk.
But the Cannabis Compassion Act is still expected to be met with some opposition. There are some state lawmakers, including Senators John Schickel and Jimmy Higdon, who have said that they would only support medical marijuana if it were for “end-of-life-situations.”
Nevertheless, the Cannabis Compassion Act of 2017 is scheduled to go before legislative gatekeepers in early January, which will determine whether the full Senate will get a chance to hear the issue in the coming months.